THE Knights of Malta, the Order which undertakes
charitable and relief work similar to that done by the Red Cross, was considerably surprised recently by reports pub lished abroad which stated that the Italian Ministry of Defence, to get round peace treaty restrictions on the Italian Air Force, was transferring old aircraft to the order.
" If a fleet of four 'planes. all 15 years old or more and made of plywood and canvas, constitute an air force, then indeed we have an air force," said a spokesman for the order.
The 'planes were transferred to the Order three years ago, with the approval of the Allied authorities. They were 36 old aircraft, all useless for military purposes and earmarked for scrapping.
They were handed over for conversion into hospital 'planes. In three years, the Order has been able to convert four of the 'planes and make them airworthy.
Within the last few months, the Allied authorities have approved a second agreement, under which between 45 and 50 more of the same old aircraft will be handed over to the Order for use in air-sea rescue work.